By Scott Blough, Team X-T.R.E.M.E. Times Square Team Leader
Where it Began
In August of 2012, I traveled to Leesburg, VA for the Mid-Atlantic Super Spartan. This was my first exposure to the sport of obstacle course racing (OCR). While on the festival grounds I heard bagpipes coming closer and noticed a group of soldiers entering the starting area. The announcer informed us that these men were part of a group called Team X-T.R.E.M.E. We turned our attention to the skies where we saw a black parachute open and the announcer told us during his descent that the team was going to run this course with two wounded warriors. One of the wounded warriors, Noah Galloway, was being tandem parachute jumped in to the event.
The team assembled. It was at this point when I got my first look at Todd Love. Todd is a triple amputee. Missing both legs being above the knee and his left arm below the elbow, he served as a Recon Marine before his injuries. He is carried by the team in a backpack throughout the race. I quickly snapped a picture on my phone and cheered them on as they took off to conquer the course. That was the last time I saw the team that day, I stopped by the Team X-T.R.E.M.E. booth on the way out of the festival grounds and grabbed a t-shirt.
Joining the Team
Upon returning to North Carolina I began doing research on Team X-T.R.E.M.E. to find out who they were. As the pictures and videos of the race came out they were nothing short of amazing. The images of Todd climbing the 25 foot rope in Leesburg have become known throughout the sport of Obstacle Course Racing (OCR). As I dug deeper into the articles on the internet I started to become more inspired by the team and the mission. The statement “We give opportunity not sympathy” was the final straw for me I was hooked. I signed up as a Team X-T.R.E.M.E. Community Athlete (TXCA) then started looking for ways to join the team. I learned that there was an indoctrination (INDOC) process to try out for the team.
I signed up for the INDOC class 003-012. We started with eight people trying out for the team with two wounded warriors. Class 003-012 had six people finish, of those six; four were selected to join the team. We were issued our Avon C-50 gas masks and welcomed to the team.
Reebok Spartan Times Square Challenge was my first event as a team leader. Times Square was an amazing opportunity for Team X-T.R.E.M.E. to get our mission out to the world and support Spartan Race, an organization that has lent us a great deal of opportunity and exposure. The race course allowed the spectators to get right up next to the action and see the whole course. Many of our community athletes were on hand, as well as two wounded warriors – Todd Love and Eduard Lychik. As a team, we tackled the course in Times Square Lychik and Love demonstrating extreme acts of physical strength and endurance. Watching them climb the ropes simultaneously was a sight I will never forget. We got to meet many spectators and some celebrities like Tiki Barber and Brooklyn Decker. We even met Reebok Spartan athletes Hobie Call and Spencer Hendel. It was a great day!
After the race the team headed to Ground Zero where we took a tour of the memorial that opened in 2011. The memorial is overwhelming. The names of the fallen line the outer edge the memorial appropriately named “Reflecting Absence.” The mood of the team was very somber at the memorial. We focused on how that day had changed our lives and where we might have been had that never happened. Most of the team members have at least one combat deployment in support of the Global War on Terror. To stand at the physical location that started it all was a great opportunity for the team. We look forward to more events in 2013 and supporting our mission to honor, empower, and motivate wounded service members.
[Editor’s Note: Scott Blough grew up in Fairfield, Iowa and joined the Army in 2000. Blough has served as a medical sergeant in Army Special Operations for the past 9 years. Blough as deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom 5 times between 2005 and 2010. Blough is currently attending Campbell University where he will earn a Bachelor of health Science later this year.]